With a breathy, gentle dreamy voice combined with a unique instrument in an alternative –folk/pop setting - The Harp. That’s right a virtuoso harp pop songstress. It’s seductive. It’ll lure you in and mesmerize you. It’s ethereal. From the very first notes of “This Old Radio” the instrument gives you a Morpheus-ride into the psyche and the soul of Anna Cate.
Based out of Seattle, Anna Cate is her debut offering. A classically trained orchestra harpist she started writing songs on the harp. When she took the songs into a group setting she uses the harp in unique ways. The harp isn’t used out front on many of the tunes but more as an accompaniment instrument to add washes of color and embellishments to the other instruments. Nathan Yaccino plays piano, guitar, bass and drums as well as other percussion on the album. Phil Schawel plays some guitar, Phillip A. Peterson is on the cello and Todd Chuba also adds percussion. It works very well, and gives a surprising and welcome sound to the genre.
From a classical harpist, you would expect a lot of rolled chords and arpeggios which wouldn’t necessarily work in a pop/rock/alternative environment. As Cate explains, “Classical harpists rarely use repeated notes but I went ahead and repeated notes in creative ways, sometimes adding accents, sometimes muting the repeated notes for staccato effect.”
She also makes great use of tempo and meter changes and shifting beats to ‘establish’ or adapt the instrument to the genre of music, instead of trying to play classical music and call it pop. It’s a distinction the bares remembering.
The next two songs here are the pop gem, “The Raincloud Song” and Daydreaming”. “Raincloud” opens with the harp solo but it soon lays behind the other instruments to allow a very radio friendly pop song to emerge. “Daydreaming” is an up tempo ballad that features some of those repeating, staccato and muted notes she spoke about above. Both of these tunes were Cate’s first attempts at writing pop music on the harp, and one listen will tell you how successful the concept is.
“Your Arms” is the only song on the EP not written on the harp or produced by Nathan Yaccino (who also plays numerous instruments, as you can see above. He also arranged most of the songs and hand picked the instruments for the arrangements.) Cate’s also plays guitar and piano and wrote the tune on those instruments. “Full Circle” is a song she got the idea for while sitting in a crowded restaurant and overheard a conversation. That is also what the song is all about, and it’s rather tasty.
The final track is “The Letter” which makes very good use of the cello and ices the cake for this promising debut. The music is a welcome escape into an enchanting new realm of possibilities for alternative pop music.
When Anna Cate was only five years old, she saw a harp concert and became enchanted with the instrument. Soon she began taking lessons and, in the ensuing years, she became a proficient harpist. Trained in classical music, she began composing at a young age but didn’t engage in formal songwriting until college, when she began taking classes in the craft. “My composing took a definite shift in direction at this point, because I preferred pop music over classical,” she says. “Most of my past performance experience is classical,” she continues. “It’s been fun to transition into a genre where words add so much expression. I’m sure the classical performances carry over into my style. Although I have great respect and love for a lot of classical works, I wanted to be a part of a modern art form.” I’d say she is well on the way to being not only a part of a modern art form, but one of its rising stars.
- Original Release Date: September 25, 2012 Label: Anna Cate Copyright: 2012 Anna Cate Total Length: 22:18 Genres:Alternative Rock ASIN: B00932NDQE
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved